'The Great Gatsby': What the Critics Are Saying

The Great Gatsby
Warner Bros.

Experts weigh in on the glitzy, star-studded literary adaptation.

Baz Luhrmann's hyper-stylistic reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic, The Great Gatsby, has been receiving split reviews from industry critics. 

The film, which is set to open Cannes on May 15 and to hit U.S. theaters on May 10, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the idealistic self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby, and features performances by Tobey Maguire as the naive neighbor and story narrator Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan as the object of Gatsby's affections, Daisy Buchanan.       

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Critics seem to be evenly divided on the film. Several discredit the project for its superfluous use of 3D and its narrative divergence from the original text, while others laud Gatsby for its appropriate use of modern technologies and its comparatively accurate adaptation.       

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter argues that the film's 3D does not detract from the story, and adds to its cinematic experience.

"As for the use of 3D by Luhrmann and cinematographer Simon Duggan, it is probably the most naturalistic aspect of the film; only rarely do you notice it in a pronounced way and yet it really does add something to the experience, drawing you in as if escorting you through a series of opening gates, doors and emotional states."

Conversely, USA Today's Claudia Puig feels that the 3D visuals do not contribute to the film's "sense of immersion," adding that Luhrmann's "version of The Great Gatsby is stylish, colorful material piled on in excess and tinged with overheated melodrama."

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Time's Richard Corliss notes that this Gatsby, in spite of its distracting production design, is the best film adaption of Fitzgerald's novel to date, saying, "No question that Baz Luhrmann has concocted the worthiest, tenderest and most extreme of these adaptations. It deserves to be called ‘The’ Gatsby. Just not great." 

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes that the liberties Luhrmann took in his screenplay, notably Nick being characterized as an alcoholic, made him "crazy." He adds, "There may be worse movies this summer than The Great Gatsby, but there won't be a more crushing disappointment."

Chris Nashawaty's review in Entertainment Weekly praises Fitzgerald's novel for its "devastating look into the dark side of the American dream," and ends his review noting that Luhrmann sacrifices the book's story for Gatsby's style.   

"Too bad Luhrmann, the caffeinated conductor, doesn't trust that story enough. He'd rather blast your retinas into sugar-shock submission. Uncle, old sport! Uncle!"